The scent of poppy flower sugar in my kitchen and a roasted rhubarb sherbet recipe

When I was a child we ran free around endless wheat fields.

Once spring rolled in, the grass grew tall, soft and vibrant – this pure green color that is hard to describe. I miss how soft it was (grass in Florida itches!). Red poppies grew wild alongside this wheat grass. Weightless… long and thin stems that the wind would blow violently from side to side.

Every May I think of the red poppies. I call my dad and ask him, “have they bloomed yet?”

During our trip to Dordogne last year, we dined at Cabanoix – a small restaurant with a modern-French twist. I actually cannot wait to go back there this year. Next to the restaurant, there is a small épicerie where they carry the most fragrant tea blends (I still love my strawberry hibiscus tea), salts, spices, riz au lait mixes, and floral sugars.

I remember seeing the bag of sucre coquelicot (poppy flower sugar) and I nearly fell on the floor. I grabbed my bag and ran to the cashier afraid everyone else would raid the counters.

Days before, I had tasted the most delicious coquelicot ice cream at the Jardin de Marqueyssac. The memory of the subtle, floral sweetness was fresh on my mind.

I had big plans for this sucre coquelicot.

Somehow, I waited until this spring to really start baking with the poppy flower sugar. Perhaps the conversations with my dad about the poppy fields ignited the curiosity once again.

I have been adding it to many recipes including arroz con leche that I served with poached rhubarb puree and berries.

Also a berry crumble with pistachios and crunchy millet. Just the perfect subtle scent of poppies in my kitchen.

There is an abundance of rhubarb in my kitchen these days.

I made this dairy-free roasted rhubarb sherbet that I also flavored with poppy flower sugar and vanilla bean. It’s a slight variation of a roasted strawberry sherbet recipe that you can find in my book. It is actually one of my favorite recipes from the book and what can I say, my family loves it too. I hope you try it even without the poppy flower sugar.

So now I continue to dream of the poppies in my Basque Country.

Tell me, do you have poppy fields around you? If so, please go out and admire them for me – even if the wind makes them hard to photograph.

Roasted Rhubarb Sherbet with Poppy Flower Sugar

1 pound (450 g) rhubarb stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (85 g) poppy flower sugar or natural cane sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 cup (250 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. In a roasting pan, toss together the rhubarb, 3 tablespoons (35 g) poppy flower sugar, and vanilla bean and its seeds. Bake for 30 minutes until the rhubarb is tender and the sugar makes a syrup. Remove the vanilla bean. Puree the rhubarb in the food processor and let it cool.

In the meantime, combine the rest of the sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until the sugar dissolves. Let the syrup cool completely.

Whisk together the rhubarb puree, simple syrup, coconut milk, and sea salt. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 hours and churn in your ice cream machine according to your manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the sherbet to a freezer-safe container and freeze until hard. Before serving, remove the sherbet from the freezer and let it come to temperature for 15 minutes.


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76 Responses to “The scent of poppy flower sugar in my kitchen and a roasted rhubarb sherbet recipe”

  1. Gorgeous photos, bravo! I’ll have to try the recipe too.

  2. This post looks like an absolute dream! Rhubarb and poppies make me happy every Spring :)

  3. A wonderful post! Your pictures are delightful and so are your creations. I love poppies!



  4. tinajo says:

    Lovely story and pics! :-)

  5. Soma says:

    What a lovely and unique creation! Love love love the photographs.. but isn’t that how it is always is? :)

  6. Melissa says:

    What a beautiful post! I’m curious – where do you find those adorable spoons? :)

  7. This is absolutely stunning! Love this idea!

  8. I love poppy flowers also.They are really common back home,and in Portugal also. So pretty!!

  9. Laura says:

    Aran, growing up in Italy I totally know what you are talking about, the poppies always put a smile on my face. I ate some pasta stuffed with the tender poppy shoots once and it was delicious.

    This year I planted some legion poppies in my garden, and they are so stunning, much bigger than the wild type but still delightful.

    I will go out and think of you this afternoon.

    I now want to learn how to make the poppy sugar since I have so many flowers.

  10. That sherbet looks deliciuos! It’s a pity rhubarb is so hard to find in BCN… ;-(
    Great poppy fields around La Segarra (Catalonia), worth a visit!

  11. Only you can make plastic cups look elegant. Beautiful post!

  12. Laurap poppy shoot stuffed pasta…. wow… I need some of that. I’d love to see photos of your garden.

    Sanda- yes in the basque country too and even to the point that some industrial growers consider them weeds and are always trying to kill them. :(

  13. Rhu and Sam- Oh I will definitely look into it. Must be gorgeous!

    Thank you!

  14. Maria says:

    Aran, I love this post! It may me imagine standing in a field of poppies. And your comment about the épicerie made me think of the one I used to visit when I lived in Germany. It was like going to a different world where everything was spices related. These recipes look delicious and I am going to try this rhubarb sherbet this weekend. Looks so good. Question, have you tried making it with almond milk? Was wondering if it would change the taste. thanks!

  15. Rebecca says:

    Oh wow! What memories you just brought back! When I was a child poppies AND rhubarb grew wild in my mother’s garden. I remember we ate variations of rhubarb with almost every meal in the summertime. Just yesterday a friend gave me a bag of rhubarb from her garden. I never thought to roast it before making sherbet or ice cream. I bet it’s amazing! Oh – And the colours in this post! Just stunning!

  16. I love your photographs! The colors are all so vibrant and springlike :) And your rhubarb sherbet looks so creamy and refreshing!

  17. notyet100 says:

    Omg this looks so delicious,,,:)

  18. Melina says:

    We must be on the same wavelength right now. I just visited a dairy farm where gorgeous poppies lined the farmer’s house, and I ran around like a child photographing their amazing beauty. I over-bought some wonderful strawberries last week (if that is even possible), and am making a crumble with them and some rhubarb, too. funny how things flow…
    all the best to you and your family!

  19. ALITA: says:

    adoro esas flores, muy buenas fotos como siempre, un saludo

  20. Maria- you can use almond milk but I think that only if you make it yourself and make it very thick. The store-bought almond milk (at least the ones I find) are very watery. Coconut milk is rich and creamy.

    Rebecca- what a great childhood!

    Melina- omg, where is that dairy farm? I must visit!

    Alita- en castellano se llaman amapolas.

    Thank you everyone!

  21. OMG! Beautiful Amapolas! Thank you. Good Pictures

  22. ellie says:

    oh i can’t wait i can’t wait i can’t wait for your book. EVERY SINGLE image in this post (well, ok – actually ever image you ever post really!!) made my heart stop, and then beat faster. You have a magic way with light and colour and texture. Oh yes. Oh golly.
    Beautiful. I love the story – you ringing your dad asking if the poppies are in bloom.

  23. pigeon pie says:

    I think I will be trying some of this! Your photos are so stunning that they make me want to eat the sorbet on a freezing cold day! But in saying that whenever I cook something from your blog people always rave about it :)

  24. So beautiful! The reds and pinks just ring summer to me. I must try and find poppy sugar now.

  25. yozza says:

    Thanks for the Roasted Rhubarb Sherbet with Poppy Flower Sugar recipe.
    I’ll create one for sure, my kids are gonna like it :)
    If you don’t mind, can you submit your Roasted Rhubarb Sherbet with Poppy Flower Sugar photo in ?
    It’s a food photography site full of all DIY food pictures from members around the world. Or perhaps you’d like to submit by yourself? Let me know when you did, so I can share it.

  26. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been waiting for this post! Now I know what to do with my poppy sugar :) I am inspired! I chuckle when I remember grabbing a jar, having no idea you’d done the same. This post certainly takes the cake Aran…well done!

  27. Leticia says:

    Hi every one!!

    I would very much appreciate if someone could help me on where to buy online all these beautiful spoons which I totally adore.
    Tips anyone?

    Thanks in advance.

  28. Iratxe says:

    OMG!!!, pero qué cosa más bonita, qué delicia de postre, el ruibarbo me encanta pero aquí (supongo que se conseguirá) no sé dónde. ¡Me encanta, me encanta, me encanta!. Muxuak.

  29. argone says:

    J’ai fait des macarons au coquelicot récemment, en utilisant du confit et du sirop de coquelicot (Nemours). C’était bien bon ! Merci pour tes magnifiques photos !

  30. That’s incredible, only two days ago I was walking by the fields and I photographed a long row of deep red poppies! I’ll link you my pictures when I’m posting it, if you like it. I remember opening the buds to see the petal color when I was a child…

  31. Laura says:

    Oh my! You write so beautifully…I could really picture the scene and it seems so romantic (not the lovey kind of romantic though). Those pictures are really making me swoon.

  32. Kim says:

    @ Leticia -

    I have also been looking for those beautiful spoons everywhere on the internet! It must be some closely guarded secret because I’ve seen numerous commentors ask about them and their question is never answered (as far as I have found). Good luck! Let me know if you unravel this mystery :)

  33. Hi everyone asking about the spoons. They are from France and Anthropologie is selling them now. You can get them online.

  34. Kim says:

    Yay! Thank you so much for the spoon info! Your recipes are mouth watering already, but somehow eating them with a beautiful spoon makes me feel like I’d be enjoying the whole experience :)

  35. Deb says:

    Although I always read your posts, I rarely comment. But I must stop by to say this is the most exceptional post yet!
    The combination of the poppy fields, poppy flower sugar and rhubarb sherbet is magical. Just inspired!

  36. I love poppies!!! And raspberry desserts so this post is a surefire winner with me! Love it!

  37. Beautiful! Poppies are amongst my favorite flowers…I’d love to have the opportunity to find that sugar you describe. The grass here in New Hampshire is very soft. Your post reminded me to walk through the grass, down to our barn, beside which lives a rhubarb plant alongside a field of purple forget-me-nots. Fresh flowers picked and in a vase on my counter now; rhubarb bread in the oven as I write. Thanks for the inspiration!

  38. New visitor to your blog. Your pictures are just beautiful and I love those cute little spoons.

  39. This recipe looks awesome. I’ll have to try it!

  40. Meeling says:

    Looks & sounds amazing!! Must give that a try – I love using my ice cream maker!! Now to find the poppy sugar!!

  41. MiaInABox says:

    Holy cow…I love everything about this post…and I want to experience and try it…genius, Jules!

  42. a. maren says:

    i had no idea you could consume the poppy flower! seeds, sure, but flower? so much more romantic! i’ll have to find some of this…

  43. I love this post!!!! Covering a range of favorite things from poppies to rhubarb recipes :) I have had a bundle of fresh rhubarb on my counter for 3 days waiting for the perfect recipe to come along, and I”m thinking the sherbet is a winner! Thank you for the inspiration, and as always, lovely recollections and photographs..

  44. Androw says:

    Thanks for the information and for sharing your knowledge.
    Buy Articles

  45. Roasted rhubarb sherbet sounds absolutely scrumptious!

  46. Kalypso says:

    always great posts.i admire you!

  47. So beautiful pics! So fresh foods! And me too, I like so much those spoons! And I m from France,but still don’t know where can I buy them! Can u give a line or a name,plz?

  48. mysweetcorner- they are made by Sabre and I got mine at Printemps.


  49. Minna says:

    I have those same polka dot bowls which are in this picture in the middle: It seems like you have done the crumble in them so are they oven safe? I’m not sure but I remembered seeing “not oven safe” stick in them when I bought them so I have never put them to the oven.

  50. Minna says:

    Where did you got that cute dark hot pat or whatever it is under the bowl? I have seen those in your other photos too and they’re so lovely. :)

  51. Bliss says:

    This sugar just sounds so interesting that I can’t really imagine the taste. Btw, I really love your vintage and contemporary kitchen accessories – the photos are awesome.

  52. Parabéns pelo seu blog! Muito lindo! Supera nossas expectativas. Abraços

  53. Que lindo seu blog! Percebi muita harmonia nas cores e imagens. Passa uma energia boa. Parabens! Abraços

  54. Dee says:

    My gosh. Your photography… the composition, style, colors .. SO stunning. You have such a beautiful life and found a way to capture and share it with others. It is all so inspiring!

  55. leon10 says:

    that looks very
    beautiful nice and yummy tasty. I like the
    poppy flowers in it its
    something diffrent
    and odd but very nice and lovely
    greethings leon10

  56. Kevin says:

    So many amazing ways to enjoy springs bounty!

  57. beautiful, gosh such summer colour. would love to eat this right now!

  58. Aran you can buy seeds of Shirley poppies Papaver rhoeas pretty easily (aka Flander poppies, a hybrid of the wild field poppies bred initially by Reverend Shirley in the 19th C). They are annual and if you let them reseed as I do, you soon will have miniature “fields” – reminiscent of the Alpine fields I saw years ago. I love them – they bloom around Memorial day for me – if the weather is conducive can last over 6 weeks. They are amazing cut flowers. This year, with everything being so early, they started to bloom the 1st week of May. A few photos here if you are interested:

    I have long know that the young leaves are used in salad, an oil can be made from the seeds, and that the flowers are used for bright red syrup in Central Europe. Thanks so much for mentioning the floral sugar. Yesterday I went and collected a bunch of petals and processed them with sugar which is now drying — I made it darker than the one shown in your photo. Very simple, very beautiful.

  59. Sylvie- that is wonderful. thanks for the tip!

  60. hi from berlin,

    the photos are beautiful and i love rhubarb, so would like to try this. is it possible to do this without an ice-cream maker?

    sunny greetings,anja

  61. Marga says:

    magníficas fotos precioso recetario

  62. Queencake- read this post from David Leibovitz about how to make ice cream with an ice cream maker

  63. Your blog is wonderful
    nice Greetings from Austria

  64. All your recipes look amazing ! thanks for the lovely blog ;-)
    I don’t know if you’ve visited my new vegetarian food blog (cooking and baking) but if you haven’t – I’d like to invite you (you can enjoy it even if you’re not vegetarian).
    Feel free to stop by, say hello and follow the blog so that you’ll be getting daily updates (-:

  65. tei says:

    Now I know another thing I miss from my home country: early summer rhubarb and strawberries.

  66. Anonymous says:

    Aran, again, you amazed me every time! I had no idea we can eat poppy flowers! I adore them, I will definitely try it :)
    I have a question for you if isn’t to much to answer it – I adore this beautiful white (cotton?)fabric with pink and aqua cherry blossoms! I think it would be great tablecloth for my new home which we move in few days ago. Can you please tell me who the creator (manufacture) is so I can buy it?
    Thank you so much!


  67. Maja- that is a placemat from Pip Studio actually :) Thank you!

  68. Anonymous says:

    Aran, thank you so much for your answer :)
    I’m looking forward to your new posts and pics! :) You are truly inspiring!


  69. thaaaaaaaaanks alot very much

  70. Angela says:

    What are the white/opaquish berries in this photo:

    Thanks! I’ve just never seen them before, so I’m curious :)

  71. Angela- they are white currants. So beautiful and tart. Thanks!

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